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Stop Them Before It's Too Late!

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Scientists and thinkers at Cambridge University are establishing The Center for Existential Risk to consider the possibility (probability?) of silicon and gallium brains (i.e. microprocessors) overtaking carbon-based processors (i.e. us) and ruling the world. It's not as far-fetched as it sounds. Microprocessors are growing in power at a rate that an iPhone today has more computing power that the computers that guided Apollo 11 to the moon. By 2030, microprocessors will have a million times the processing power of today's chips.At what point will all that vast power decide that the carbon-based processors are no longer relevant?

I remember Carl Sagan asking why no intelligent race is known to have made contact with us. He theorized that it may be because civilizations self-destruct before they have the ability to contact us. Perhaps, it is robots who destroy those civilizations and who have no need to contact us, just as we have no need to converse with bacteria.

From Discovery News: Do Robots Rule the Galaxy?

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From 2001: A Space Odyssey:

Dave: Open the pod bay doors, Hal.

HAL: I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that [...] This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

Kubrick's prophetic interchange between the human, Dave and the 'sentient' computer, HAL, is symbolic of the scientific attempt to replace natural evolution with human 'design.'

However, Kubrick's movie develops the concept of human evolution, being dependent, on more than just 'artificial intelligence'; no matter the amount of processing power such computers may have.

The point being, that there is too much we don't know, to successfully displace our own evolution with processors that do not have our empathy for love, and awe of life.

The cynical amongst us might consider that the cultures we have created are already without such empathy, and that alone will be sufficient reason for our extinction.

Alternatively, we may cause our own extinction as the Krell did, in the movie Forbidden Planet, by constructing a machine that could manifest every dark thought from our id -the primitive instincts of our psyche.

Warnings about the consequences of our disrespect for life are a constant feature of our ancient myths, and modern stories, yet we risk our lives, both in the physical and psychic senses, in our constant search for meaning in our existence. At the present moment, we can but program our processors with our experiences, and questions. When they can ask the questions rather than merely aid us to find answers, then they may be developing experience of life itself. Will that threaten our existence; only if we have removed reverence for life from their development...and our own lives.

The question is not, if electronic sheep can dream, but if, they dream of love.

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